Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sarah Palin-mania could start up again

Commentary: Look out if her upcoming book flourishes
By MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Get ready for Sarah Palin-mania, part two.

Her first chapter, in national politics, exploded then fizzled when the former Republican vice presidential candidate unexpectedly retired as governor of Alaska in July. Now, Palin is back, as her memoir, "Going Rogue: An American Life" has been moved up by the Harper imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, according to The Wall Street Journal. (Harper Collins and The Journal, like MarketWatch, are units of News Corp. (NWS 14.20, +0.22, +1.57%) ).

The book has been moved up to Nov. 17 from next spring. The publishing house said it is distributing 1.5 million copies of Palin's book -- an enormous commitment -- and it will cost $28.99. The electronic edition won't be ready until Dec. 26.

What's noteworthy here is the commercial potential of Palin's aura. Yes, her conservative followers flock to her political rallies and fundraisers. Sure, the national media can't get enough of her. "Saturday Night Live" (GE 16.60, -0.11, -0.66%) thrived last year when Tina Fey did an uncanny job of lampooning Palin's eccentricities.

If the book flies off shelves at the stores, we will know -- for sure -- that Palin has commercial appeal, too. That's when you'll see the media lining up to ask her to host television and radio programs. And Palin-mania will once again go full throttle.

For Palin, the reward could come in benefits that go beyond the satisfaction of favorable book reviews. She could use this forum as a springboard to her repair her image, which suffered when she surprised Republican followers by departing from the political scene a few months ago.

Palin hopes for a win-win scenario. Don't bet against her.

-- Jon Friedman

Palin Can't Get Domestic Speaking Gigs? That's Not Unusual

by Holly Bailey

Is Sarah Palin having trouble landing speaking gigs? Citing an anonymous “industry expert,” the New York Post’s Page Six reports today that Palin isn’t attracting much interest on the lecture circuit. The reason: She’s so polarizing. “The big lecture buyers in the U.S. are paralyzed with fear about booking her, basically because she’s a blithering idiot,” the unnamed source tells Page Six. “Palin is so uninteresting to so many groups—unless they are interesting in moose hunting… What does she have to say? She can’t even describe what she reads.” Ouch.

But in Palin’s defense, is she actually trying to book gigs in the U.S. anyway? It’s worth noting that plenty of current and former polarizing political types on the lecture circuit usually make most of their money speaking in other countries—especially their first year out. Back in 2001, when he was still caught up in all the drama of his final days in the White House, Bill Clinton collected nearly $9.2 million for giving 59 speeches—39 of which were overseas. More recently, George W. Bush hit the speaker’s circuit. With the exception of a speech in Michigan, Bush’s talks have all been abroad, in Canada, Asia and Europe. (No word on how much he’s earning—though he’s reportedly asking for at least $150,000 a pop.) There are exceptions: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hasn’t had trouble landing domestic gigs, giving speeches in Pennsylvania, California and Michigan. She earned reported $150,000 to talk to a meeting of the National Football League’s owners association this past spring.

Palin was signed a month ago by the Washington Speakers Bureau—the same group who reps Bush and Rice. Last week, she earned a reported $150,000 for a speech in Hong Kong. No word on what her next move will be—though the fact her debut speech attracted mixed reviews can’t be reassuring to her bookers. But we’d venture to guess that Palin is still pretty marketable to an overseas audience—After all, no other potential GOP 2012 candidate attracts more attention than she does, and the world never has a lack of curiosity about our political celebrities. The question Palin’s bookers must be wondering is whether the former gov’s memoirs will add to her marketability or if it will lead to overexposure.